By Juan C. Lozano | July 24, 2018
One of the most interesting coaching developments after the 2017 season was the departure of Kris Richard from the Seattle Seahawks. Richard, now the Dallas Cowboys defensive backs coach and defensive passing game coordinator, was a long-time Seahawks employee — first as a player (a third-round selection of the team in the 2002 NFL Draft) and later as a coach, eventually becoming defensive coordinator when Dan Quinn left to become head coach of the Atlanta Falcons.
Not only was Richard a long-time member of the Seahawks, but he worked exclusively for head coach Pete Carroll for a decade. After a six-year NFL playing career as a cornerback, Richard began his coaching career under Carroll at his alma mater, the University of Southern California. He was a graduate assistant from 2008-2009.
Richard then followed Carroll to Seattle and was the assistant defensive backs coach for the Seahawks in 2010 before being promoted to cornerbacks coach in 2011 and later defensive backs coach from 2012-2014. Carroll promoted Richard to defensive coordinator in 2015 after Quinn departed for Atlanta.
Richard played an important role during his time in Seattle in the development of defensive backs Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor and DeShawn Shead, among others. The Seattle defense, nicknamed the “Legion of Boom” for their aggressive, hard-hitting style, was recognized as one of the league’s most intimidating and productive defenses. However, in 2017, Richard’s last season as defensive coordinator, the Seahawks failed to make the playoffs with a 9-7 record. They still managed to give up only 4.9 yards per play on defense, good for third best in the NFL (tied with Arizona and Denver). This made the Richard-Seattle breakup a bit surprising.
In Dallas, Richard will not be the defensive coordinator. That responsibility rests with Rod Marinelli, who will lead the defense for a fifth straight season. Yet Richard will have significant responsibility with the Cowboys. As defensive backs coach and defensive passing game coordinator, Richard is expected to accelerate the development of the young cornerbacks (Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis) and safeties (Xavier Woods, Kavon Frazier) that the Cowboys have acquired via the draft in the last few years. The Cowboys struggled against the better passing teams in the NFL in 2017 as they were torched by the Rams, Packers, Eagles and Chargers in high-scoring contests. Richard is in Dallas to help prevent that from occurring again in 2018.
Richard discusses his role in Dallas, his coaching influences (Carroll) and how he brings energy to coaching in this interview. Richard will go up against his mentor and former team on September 23 when the Cowboys travel to Seattle.
Richard, a Southern California native, reportedly interviewed with the Indianapolis Colts for their head coaching positon at the end of the 2017 season. Richard’s departure from Seattle will likely not hinder Richard from being considered for a head coaching opportunity in the future. Richard’s track record as an assistant and later defensive coordinator in Seattle will overcome the appearance of being terminated in Seattle.